Haifa Messianic congregation wins appeal against city decision to tax
Bethesda Messianic Assembly in Haifa (Photo: Zeev Zamir/Wikimedia Commons)
A Messianic congregation has won its appeal against the Haifa municipality which wanted to charge property taxes on the portion of the congregational building used for childcare during services.
The precedent-setting case was argued in the District Court of Haifa after Bethesda Messianic Assembly appealed the municipality’s decision to levy the property taxes, a decision was confirmed by the internal appeals board of the City.
While the city called it a daycare or nursery, the service provided by the congregation is an adjunct to the adult service and takes place at the same time.
The municipality considered it a business, but the District Court ruled in the congregation’s favor that the nursery was an inseparable part of the primary purpose at Bethesda — prayer.
“The Court emphasized that the nursery was active only during the time of prayer and that the care of the infants was handled by volunteers from the congregation, and not by someone who was paid to do so,” attorney Marvin Kramer told KNI. “It held that there was a real connection between the congregation and the nursery, which exempted having to pay arnona (municipal property tax) for that part of the property.”
The congregation gathers regularly on Wednesday and Saturday and uses a community hall upstairs for the main service, while the basement, with a separate entrance, serves as a space for childcare. Despite the separate entrances, the court did not see that as an obstacle to the tax exemption.
A municipal inspector visited the site in 2015 and reported the use of the basement, leading the city to levy property taxes. The congregation objected and appealed arguing that the basement is only used concurrently with services and should not be independently considered. The internal appeals board confirmed the decision of the City, but its decision was overturned by the District Court.
The city attempted to appeal the District Court ruling to the Supreme Court of Israel, but the high court rejected the city’s request last month.
Kramer said the ruling can be used as a precedent for other congregations.
“The judgement of the District Court in favor of Bethesda can be used as a precedent for arguing that a practical interpretation of the law, in the face of existing facts and justifiable circumstances of activities that are supportive of the primary exempt purpose, should allow for similar results for other congregations,” he said.
Haifa District Court Judge Bracha Bar-Ziv agreed with the house of prayer.
“There is no dispute that this is not business activity in all parts of the property,” Bar-Ziv said in her October ruling. “There is no dispute that the main part of the property is used for prayer or religious studies.”
“Considering the nature of the activity, its scope and its dates, I believe that the place should be considered a ‘nursery’ whose activity is not in itself but an integral part of the main activity — prayer,” Bar-Ziv said. “It operates only during the hours when there is prayer, the protection of the children is not carried out by a kindergarten teacher but by a member of the community and girls who help her, and the number of children is very limited.”
One in Messiah – Beer Sheva Messianic Congegration visits Arab Christians in Bethlehem
On Sonday, December 23, 2018, Randi and I, with some others, went again to Bethlehem to worship and celebrate with our brothers and sisters there at a church which is not particularly favorable towards Israel. They do have good fellowship with Israeli believers, even Jewish ones; but their lives have been forged much by living under difficult necessary security measures taken by Israel, and by pressures from the Islamic culture in which they also live. Plus, the false doctrine of replacement theology has negatively influenced their interpretation of the Bible and current events, including the reestablishment of the nation-state of Israel for the Jewish people.
We have been doing this since 2003, during the second intifada. Our peoples fear each other, do not trust each other, fight and kill one another. Biblically speaking, the conflict is over the inheritance of the promised land, going back to Jacob and Esau, and the two nations which were in Rebecca’s womb. But we are there as faces and names to them, and they are faces and names to us: reminders that our Father has redeemed children there and here. For the sake of the testimony of who Jesus/Yeshua is we go: we must show that Jesus is our peace and reconciliation, even when times are tense and difficult. If we cannot do that when things are not well, then we have no message to our people even when they are. It is the grace and mercy of God that moves us. We all have a better inheritance even than covenantly promised to Israel and the Jewish people for the land. And God is going to fulfill all of His promises through, and because of, the one Righteous Man, Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ!
We went, with 25 others, to Bethlehem to worship and celebrate with our brothers and sisters there at an evangelical church. We had a minibus full, plus a van. A group of mostly internationals from our congregation had planned to do half-hour of Christmas songs at Ben-Gurion University of The Negev in Beer Sheva on that day, but the university canceled them earlier in the week, for “bureaucratic reasons”. So, that freed them up to do what they wanted to do: go with us to Bethlehem! They sang a couple of their renditions at the church there, and everyone was really blessed. Praise God! The church also had a marvelous children’s program, and about 200 children — including those who were with us — each received a very nice gift. They were all really happy! Please pray that we would continue to have an open door to enter the ‘other side’. We want to encourage and build up the Body of Messiah in the truth and unity of YHVH God. The Kingdom of God does recognize boundaries, and in the Spirit we can respect them, and cross over.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.
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Health update on Israeli evangelist Jacob Damkani
Jacob Damkani evangelizing on the streets of Tel Aviv with a team from Trumpets of Salvation
The following is a health update posted by Jacob’s wife, Elisheva, on Facebook, January 13, 2019.
A new week of shalom to you, precious friends.
We are enjoying a wonderful time here, the sun gives us a glimpse of the grace of God. He is good!
We are home. And we are so glad we are.
Jacob has become much more quiet, content, happy, the struggles became less, and he is much more part of the life around him since the day we came home. We are thankful for his stable condition, for his body to be strong and his mind to learn more and more of the things that seemed forgotten.
Most mornings he wakes up with a smile and in spite of the helpless state he is in he seems to be thankful, happy, smiling a lot and often laughing. He still communicates only with his eyes, his vocal chords won’t work with the canula still in.
Jacob is fighting bravely; but yes, he also has serious struggles and I would like to ask you for prayer.
Lying in bed for so long and not being able to move much, he does have a lot of pain. We do physiotherapy daily but still… Please pray for wisdom that we can help him better.
Also, in rehab he seemed to have suffered more than we knew. He has a serious trauma from being hurt (nurses never have enough time and obviously hurt him) and he is now scared when someone comes close or touches him. Before rehab he could not get enough hugs. Please pray with us for that trauma to be healed. In His stripes we are healed
Traditional medicine tries to be careful, not to take risks, and it is a struggle to get the canula out. I so much want it out especially since Jacob does not need any oxygen for a long time, he is breathing all on his own and this hole in his neck does disturb him. Pray with me to find a doctor that is willing to help us to get this thing out.
And please pray for the family, for everyone involved, to receive the love, strength and wisdom from the Lord to deal with Jacob’s situation and with his/her own pain. It has not been easy for some, for all of us. Seing this strong man in bed and in a wheelchair, totally depending on people to help him with everything, is not easy to handle and we all need the grace of God to strengthen us.
It has been six months now since that surgery. Honestly I didn’t expect it to take so long for Jacob to wake up and come back to full life. Nevertheless I am still convinced that the Lord knows exactly what He is doin, and that what He does in His love is the very best – for us and for the Kingdom.
May we all be drawn closer to Him this week, may the Spirit of God reveal to us what still stands in the way for God to reign in our lives, to really reign, to take over and for us to say “Hineni, here I am, Lord, take me, mold me, make use of me for your glory.”
With much love and a thankful heart for you all, faithfully and lovingly standing with us in this challenging time, Elisheva
“O LORD, the God of Israel,
there is no god like You
in heaven or on earth,
keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants
who walk before You with all their heart…
2 Chronicles 6:14, NASB
Prayer conference to focus on Israel’s security, elections
A conference being held in Jerusalem this month is calling on intercessors to come to Israel to invest in the nation with their prayers and strategic spiritual warfare.
Some 120 participants from up to 20 countries are expected to attend the 35th annual Intercessors for Israel’s International prayer conference scheduled for Jan. 21-28.
“The purpose of our conference is to actively and corporately pray for Israel, primarily the government and security issues,” Colin Ross of IFI told KNI. “This is not a conference about prayer. Rather it is a conference for prayer.”
IFI’s mandate is to pray for Israel’s physical security and protection. The annual conference is based on the scripture that believers are called to be watchmen on the walls. Hence, the morning sessions will focus mainly on praying while evening sessions will focus on teaching. There will also be an optional post-conference prayer tour from Jan. 28 to Feb. 2, which will include praying at certain points in the Golan Heights, where, just over the border from Israel a civil war is being waged.
“The situation in Syria has become ever more complicated. Our burden is to return to the Golan Heights for our tour again this year to continue our prayers for Israel’s protection,” according to conference literature.
Also on the prayer agenda this year are security issues as Israel faces a very real threat from Hezbollah, based in southern Lebanon. the terrorist organization has built cross-border tunnels into Israel which have recently been discovered and destroyed by Israel. Another threat is from another terror group, Hamas. The organization which controls the Gaza Strip has has an arsenal of rockets that it launches at southern Israel.
Another urgent prayer topic is Israel’s upcoming national elections in the spring. And, as always, Iran’s nuclear status is on the agenda. Iran has vowed to destroy Israel and as of late has been building up its arsenal of nuclear weapons. With sanctions placed on the Islamic nation by the United States, war would affect Israel.
“While there are many other things that need prayer in Israel, the Lord’s mandate for IFI is very much the physical security of the Land,” IFI says in its promotional material for the conference. “As we have said many times before, ‘For all of Israel to be saved, we need to be alive and living in our Land.’”
Last year conference goers prayed at specific places and IFI reports that these locations have remained “basically peaceful, even considering the months of Friday riots on the Gaza border.”
“Whatever the world may think or want, we have been given a holy calling – to be watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem,” IFI says.
As Jerusalem and Israel are the center of the spiritual battle in these end times IFI asks for the attendees to be covered in prayer by their community at home.
Because they want to raise up “the next generation of intercessors who understand God’s prophetic purposes and plans for Israel,” IFI is also offering financial sponsorship for younger intercessors, 30 years and under, to attend. Israeli young people will be given priority.
“We find that most of our stalwart prayers are aging, and there is a real vacuum that needs to be filled by the next generation,” Ross explained.
For more information about the conference or to register, please see the IFI website.
“I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the Lord, do not keep silent, And give Him no rest till He establishes And till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”
New book: “Refuting Rabbinic Objections To Christianity & Messianic Prophecies”
For us, Jews who grew up in Israel, Jesus and His word were never part of the conversation. Not in our school system, not in our synagogues, and not in our media. Nor do we have easy access to the New Testament. Jesus has been studiously avoided, and hidden from our people. Today in Israel, 99.7% of the Jewish population, reject Jesus as the Messiah. How did our country, where the gospel first took place, come to be so adamantly against it?
Within Judaism over the last two millennia, any kind of spiritual message had to go through the “gate keepers”, the Orthodox Jewish Rabbis. The Rabbinic Judaism of the Orthodox comes directly from the sect of the “Pharisees”, whom Jesus rebuked:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” (Matthew 23:13)
Ever since the days of Messiah, the Rabbis have set themselves in opposition to the gospel, blocking the message of Jesus from Israel. They deliberately prevent Jewish people from hearing about the free salvation offered to them in the death and resurrection of their own Jewish Messiah. They have gone to great lengths to conceal Jesus, and keep him the best kept secret in Judaism., keeping our people in spiritual darkness.
But now the secret is out!
After almost 2000 years, Jesus, or as we call him in Hebrew, Yeshua, can no longer be hidden from the people! Today, our ministry, ONE FOR ISRAEL, reaches Jewish and Arab Israelis exactly where they are – online. We no longer need the rabbis’ permission for anything. We can go straight into the smartphones, tablets, and computers of every Israeli, sharing the saving good news of Yeshua the Messiah!
In the past, the message of the gospel came to Israel from outside our borders, delivered by people who didn’t understand our language, our culture, our heritage or our way of thinking. Today the messengers look very different. Now it is Jewish and Arab Israelis who are bringing the gospel back to where it started – back to our own people Israel. We can explain the gospel to our people in a way that makes sense to them, in our own native tongues of Hebrew and Arabic as only Israelis can, and help our people understand who Yeshua really is.
The Orthodox rabbis in Israel operate an “anti missionary” organization called Yad L’Achim, specifically to fight against the spread of the gospel among the Jewish people. This very well-funded organization, works very closely with the Minister of Interior in the Israeli government. They seek to prevent Jewish people from leaving the confines of Rabbinic Judaism by any means necessary (not always legally), and relentlessly persecute us, the Jewish believers in Jesus in Israel. With over 90% of the names, photos and addresses of all the Messianic Jews in Israel on file, Yad L’Achim began sending a magazine called “Searching” to the homes of believers in Israel back in 2014. The magazine contains objections and refutations from Orthodox rabbis about the messiahship of Jesus, the credibility of the New Testament, and trying to ridicule and destroy the belief in Jesus. This caused several Jewish believers, even including some who had been missionaries, to deny their faith in Jesus and revert to rabbinic Judaism.
Over the past five years, I decided to go over all of their magazines, books and videos, in order to answer their arguments and prove their objections false. Since 2015 we have released about 150 short videos where we share the gospel and directly refute these rabbinic objections to Jesus, New Testament and Christianity. This book is a compilation of transcripts from these videos, all in one place for your consideration. While the content of this book is based on five years of academic research, I did my best to write it in a simplistic, easy-to-read way, in order to keep this book as short as possible.
This article originally appeared on One For Israel and is reposted with permission.
Eitan is ONE FOR ISRAEL’s Media & Evangelism Director.